Rizin Fighting announced three new fights today for its Dec. 29 debut show at the Saitama Super Arena, which include a Bellator star and a former Olympic wrestler.
Brennan Ward (12-3), who has been a big crowd favorite for Bellator in fights at the Mohegan Sun Casino, near his home in Waterford, Conn., will be facing undefeated Ken Hasegawa (10-0-1) in a 178 pound catch weight fight.
That bout, along with a match involving the onetime "Baby Fedor" and a unique mixed rules match, was announced at a press conference on Thursday.
Ward is coming off three straight first round finishes, all in his 'home arena'. He's a hard puncher with a wrestling background that includes placing second at 184 pounds in the 2010 Division III national championships while competing for Johnson & Wales University. He is also a former Bellator tournament winner who lost in his lone title shot, a 2014 bout with Alexander Shlemenko, before moving to welterweight.
Hasegawa, who submitted Ryota Sakurai in his last outing on Feb. 28, has fought most of his career with the Deep promotion in Japan. He did appear on the October 31, 2014, Titan Fighting Championship show in Tampa, Fla., beating Matt Thompson by decision. His biggest career win was a majority decision over Kazuhiro Nakamura, the former judo champion who was a star during the glory days of Pride, and later fought for UFC.
Kickboxer Hinata Watanabe (33-15-1, 11 knockouts under kickboxing rules), usually just known as Hinata, will face wrestler Kazuyuki Miyata (14-9 in MMA) in a mixed rules fight. The complete rules were not announced but it appears the fight will be fought with alternating rounds of kickboxing and MMA, with the fighters switching gloves between rounds. There have been a few matches with similar rules in the past on high profile shows in Japan, including Shinya Aoki vs. Yuichiro Nagashima and Bob Sapp vs. Jerome LeBanner. It was not stated which rules the first round would be fought under.
Watanabe is best known in Japan for beating Mike Zambidis in 2009 and taking third place in the 2010 K-1 Max (154 pound weight class) Grand Prix tournament.
Miyata, 39, was a name fighter with Hero's and Dream in Japan from 2005 to 2011. While his record was spotty, he became popular because he would use German suplexes, a popular move in Japan dating back to Karl Gotch and pro wrestling in the 1960s, in many of his matches. He represented Japan in the 2000 Olympics in Greco-Roman wrestling at 139 pounds. This fight will be at 155 pounds. Miyata is really a name from the past who has only competed three times in the last four years, and is probably most famous for losing in four seconds to a flying knee from Kid Yamamoto.
Also announced was a heavyweight fight with Kirill Sidelnikov (7-4), once known as Baby Fedor, facing Carlos Toyota (6-7) of Brazil. Toyota, who usually fights as a middleweight. Toyota scored a knockout at 1:29 in a heavyweight fight over Hong-man Choi on July 25 in Tokyo. Choi is a famous fighter in Japan as the 7-foot-2, 350 pound Korean giant, who once fought Fedor Emelianenko on New Year's Eve, and also fought people like Mirko Cro Cop and even Jose Canseco. Sidelnikov is a training partner of Emelianenko, who has a sambo background. He was brought to Affliction with great hype in 2009, but lost to Paul Buentello, and hasn't fought since 2010.
It is not clear if any of these fights will be airing on Spike TV, which will be airing a "Breakfast with Fedor," themed taped show on the morning of Dec. 31, which will feature matches from both the Dec. 29 and Dec. 31 Saitama Super Arena shows
Bellator fighter Brennan Ward, additional mixed-rules fight announced for Rizin debut
Brennan Ward has been added to the debut show of Rizin, which takes place on Dec. 29 at the Saitama Super Arena. Also announced was a former Japanese Olympic wrestler vs. kickboxer match where they will alternate rounds with MMA rules and kickboxing rules.